Students and staff joined the University and College Union (UCU) strikes on November 24. Jo Grady, the General Secretary of the UCU attended the strikes in Manchester.
The picket lines on November 24, 2022, began at 8am outside Crawford House and the Samuel Alexander building distributing flyers, before walking to Whitworth Hall.
Students from the University also joined in the protests. They held signs that read, “Student Solidarity for Strikes.” Along with one banner that said, “Cross the Picket? What a Tory!”
Jo Grady joined in the front of the picket lines laughing in conversation with UCU members. She called the University employers, “the most intransigent and bullying in the country” when talking to The Mancunion.
“The demands are, give us back a part of the 35% Universities took from our pensions during the pandemic,” she stated. Adding, “pay people a proper pay rise, we have been offered 3% when the inflation is way above 10%, so this is not enough.”
However, she continued, “the issue which affects everyone the most is unbearably high workloads… and casualisation.”
A student on the picket line said, “My lecturers who are the people that I see every day, the people who teach me, should be on certain contracts. They should be paid. I just find it horrendous.”
Meanwhile, a lot of UCU members are asking for student support. One such member stated, “I will encourage students to read on the history of the labour movement.”
Jo Grady finished speaking with a call to action, “If you want to see this dispute resolved quickly, come and join us. Demonstrate with us. Let your Vice-Chancellor know, that you know that it is them who is to blame and them who can resolve it.”
When contacted for comment, a University spokesperson said:
“The University remains disappointed with the UCU’s decision and will be taking active steps during this period to ensure minimal disruption to our staff and students.
“We understand how important pay, employment conditions, and pensions are to colleagues – we take their views and concerns very seriously. Pay and the USS pension agreements are negotiated nationally, by UCEA and UUK respectively. As with all Higher Education Institutions, we input into these discussions and decisions.
“We also appreciate the difficult and challenging times in which we are living and are taking active steps to support our staff and students.”